Looking after children in care

Contact with others

If you are placed away from your family and friends this doesn't mean you won't see or hear from them again. We know how important it is for you to stay in contact with your family.

You should be able to see your family regularly, unless there are special reasons why this can't happen. There are different ways that you can keep in touch with loved ones. You can:

  • write to them or draw pictures for them
  • speak to them on the phone
  • link with them on Facebook, Twitter or other social media
  • spend time with them on a visit

Sometimes it's not a good idea for you to have contact with someone. This may be because they have harmed you in the past, or said hurtful things that upset you. If you are worried about having to see anyone, you should tell your carer or social worker and you will not have to see him or her.

If you're unhappy about the amount of contact you have with your family and friends, tell us by:

  • saying something at the regular meetings you have with us
  • telling your social worker in private

If you have come alone from another country, it might be difficult to contact relatives and friends in your own country. Wherever possible, we will work with agencies such as the Red Cross to try to trace family members who are in the UK or other parts of the world.


You have the right to use the phone and you should be encouraged to keep in touch with friends and family who, we believe, are no danger to you. You should have private access to a phone so that you can have private conversations without anyone hearing what you are saying. You have the right to send and receive letters without other people reading them.

You have the right to have your personal things kept in a safe place. You have the right not to have your room searched unless you are told why – except in very extreme circumstances – for example, if someone has good reason to believe that there are stolen or illegal goods there.

Personal things about you should not be discussed with people who don't need to know them.

Staying at a friend's house

Staying overnight at a friend's house is all part of the fun of growing up. We have a responsibility to make sure that you are going to be safe and looked after properly. If you want to stay overnight at a friend's house then:

  • your foster carer will have to be happy for you to do so – this will mean they will need to speak to your friend's parents, preferably face to face
  • your social worker will have to know where you are staying and will check that your friend's family are 'not known to social services' – that they are safe to stay with
  • in many cases your parents will also have to give their permission

We may also have to carry out police checks on the family – for example, if you are on a care order and will be staying regularly at the person's house.